STEM and a career in the veterinary profession

18 Nov 2020

In an educational context, STEM refers to an approach to learning and development that integrates the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. If you’re considering a career as a veterinarian, a solid understanding and knowledge of the STEM subjects is vital as the skills developed during STEM learning will be of benefit in all areas of veterinary medicine and surgery.

Through undertaking study of the STEM subjects, students develop key skills including problem-solving, critical analysis, independent thinking, initiative, creativity, teamwork, communication and digital literacy. As the world evolves and technological advances are implemented, a good grounding in the STEM subjects enables students to succeed in their education and beyond into the workforce.

Veterinarians utilise problem-solving and critical thinking in almost all aspects of their work. When seeing a pet for a consultation and physical examination, vets are assessing the animal for any health problems and then – in discussion with the pet owner, the vet works through a problem-solving approach to treat and manage any health conditions.

Mathematical knowledge is integral to working as a veterinarian because many health conditions may need to be treated with drugs or medications that will require the vet to calculate the appropriate dose based on the animal’s weight and health condition. Drug doses are also calculated when determining how much sedative or anaesthetic drug is required to give to an animal prior to undertaking surgical or other procedures.

Engineering and physiology are closely related, because many of an animal’s body systems incorporate physical, biomechanical and chemical mechanisms in how they work. Veterinarians can take advantage of different aspects of these mechanisms when undertaking medical or surgical treatment of animals.

Vets also need to have excellent communication skills when interacting with pet owners or farmers, as well as being good at teamwork when working with other vets, veterinary nurses or other support staff – to ensure that they manage the treatment of animals in the optimal way in the veterinary hospital and beyond.

Creativity is vitally important to being a veterinarian, and it often ties in with problem-solving and communication, in terms of having the ability to think of different ways to present information to other people, as well as thinking outside the box when developing innovative treatment methods and protocols for the animals being care for.

As we live in an increasingly digital world, having digital literacy or the skills needed to work in a society where communication, and access to and sharing of information is through digital technologies, is very important for many careers including veterinary science.

Veterinarians utilise computing systems, software programs and technologies like digital x-rays frequently in their daily work, caring for animals. Digital innovations are constantly abounding in the world of veterinary medicine and surgery, so a good understanding and knowledge of the STEM subjects will ensure that you are able to incorporate the use of digital technologies in your work and be able to learn and develop new skills as the digital world evolves.

STEM learning is very important if you want to become a veterinarian. You can find out more information about how to become a veterinarian here

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